Monday, October 18, 2021

#291 / What You'll Need

The image above is of an advertisement from the August 30, 2021, edition of The Wall Street Journal. I paid no attention to it as I proceeded through the paper, but my wife, looking over my shoulder, expressed something that might have been a combination of alarm, astonishment, and outrage. 

"Do you see that?" she asked, pointing to the cellphone graphic. The advertisement is touting an online retirement calculator that is going to help you "find out if your asset allocations will allow you to retire comfortably." As I say, I hadn't paid any attention to the entire ad, which was a full page, but when I did look at the advertisement, and the figures my wife was pointing to, it became clear that Fisher Investments is aiming to serve a demographic cohort that does not include my own family.  
The advertisement postulates a family that is on target to have $2.62 million in retirement investments, but when it comes to "What You'll Need," Fisher Investments suggests that you will need $2.95 million. It's time for action, folks. I'd suggest some bigger bets on the stock market!
Normally, a benign bemusement would be my reaction to this advertisement. This ad is aimed at the wealthy end of the economic spectrum, and my family is just not in that category - probably proving that I am not a typical reader of The Wall Street Journal. Upon a moment's reflection, however, I decided that it might make sense to comment on that "What You'll Need" phrasing. 

What we "need," taking the word literally, is almost always a lot less than what we "want," or what we are trying to get a hold of. Looking ahead, it struck me, we should be focusing on the fact that we are living well beyond our means, collectively speaking, and that we are exhausting even the renewable resources of this very finite planet on which we all depend.

When we look at our overall, big picture, planetary "retirement calculator," we should not be trying to increase our assets, to meet what we so thoughtlessly call our "needs." Instead, we should collectively be seeking to reduce our "needs," to the lesser amounts that we will actually have available as we move into the future. 

Supply and demand do, ultimately, have to balance out, which means (since what this planet can "supply" is limited) that we are going to have to reduce our "demands." 

We need to plan for "less," not "more." Collectively. Individually. Anyway you look at it!

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